Montana State University

Link between chronic infections, biofilms to be discussed at March 10 Café Scientifique

February 2, 2011 -- MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
BOZEMAN -- "Chronic Infections: The Biofilm Hypothesis" is the subject of the next Café Scientifique to be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 10, at the Baxter Ballroom in downtown Bozeman. The public is invited to attend this free informal discussion.

Biofilms are slimy, multicellular aggregates of bacteria or yeast that form on wet surfaces. Dental plaque and the slippery coat on a river rock are familiar examples. Speaker Philip Stewart, director of Montana State University's Center for Biofilm Engineering and professor of chemical and biological engineering, will explore the connection between biofilm formation and a growing number of persistent infections such as those that can occur on artificial joints, in diabetic foot ulcers, and gum disease.

Stewart's research focuses on the control of detrimental microbial biofilms. The persistent infections associated with catheters, heart valves, gum disease and burn wounds are examples of biofilms that affect human health. When microorganisms group together in biofilms, they evade antimicrobial agents such as disinfectants and antibiotics that easily kill their free-floating counterparts. Stewart is interested in the mechanisms that protect microbes in biofilms and alternative strategies for controlling biofilms.

Stewart has received the Provost's Award for Undergraduate Research/Creativity Mentoring at MSU, Outstanding Research Award in the Department of Chemical Engineering, Cox Faculty Award for Creative Scholarship and Teaching, MSU Alumni and Bozeman Chamber of Commerce Award of Excellence, and the Charles and Nora L. Wiley Faculty Award for Meritorious Research.

Stewart earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Rice University. He completed his graduate work in chemical engineering at Stanford University.

Café Scientifique, co-sponsored by Montana's INBRE and COBRE programs, provides a relaxed setting for people to learn about current scientific topics. The concept started in England in 1998 and has spread to a handful of locations in the United States. Following a short presentation by a scientific expert, the majority of time is reserved for questions, answers and lively discussion.

For more information, contact Laurie Howell at (406) 994-7531 or For more information about the Café Scientifique concept, check the Web at

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or